On 2nd June 2022, a lawsuit has been filed to prevent five young dolphins from an aquarium in Curaçao, a Dutch Caribbean island, to be transported to Saudi Arabia. The dolphins Machu, Serena, Sami, Mosa, and Luna are set to be relocated from the lagoons of Seaquarium, near Willemstad, to a concrete swimming pool in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia. 

Anna Krijger, a spokeswoman of the campaigners filing the lawsuit, said, “We hope the judge recognizes that the relocation will be extremely detrimental to these highly clever creatures….the natural habitat for the dolphins on Curaçao is 40,000 cubic meters of water. In Saudi Arabia, that will be a concrete tank of less than 3,000 cubic meters. We cannot do that to these animals.”

 Zenzi Willems, a former dolphin keeper, said, “Dolphins cannot smell. Dust and sandstorms can allow fungi to get into their lungs, which can kill them… you develop a bond with these dolphins over time. I left them with peace of mind because they live in decent conditions in Curaçao.”  But were such conditions “decent” enough? How could they be if the dolphins are kept in captivity rather than living in the ocean, where they belong? Whose fault is that the dolphins will be taken from aquarium to aquarium? Obviously, those who brought them in captivity first — either by taking them from the wild or allowing them to be born in captivity — and those who exploit them for profit. These dolphins are suffering because of the aquarium industry, including both the aquaria in Curaçao and Saudi Arabia, regardless of their size. Seaquarium is licensed by the Curaçao government to export animals. In local media, a spokesman did not want to confirm the planned move, but the tourism company stated that there are currently too many dolphins and a solution was being sought. The only solution is a total ban on keeping cetaceans in captivity, as well as banning taking them from the wild or breeding them. The rest is just “greenwashing”.

Jordi Casamitjana
“Originally from Catalonia, but resident in the UK for several decades, Jordi is a vegan zoologist and author, who has been involved in different aspects of animal protection for many years. In addition to scientific research, he has worked mostly as an undercover investigator, animal welfare consultant, and animal protection campaigner. He has been an ethical vegan since 2002, and in 2020 he secured the legal protection of all ethical vegans in Great Britain from discrimination in a landmark employment tribunal case that was discussed all over the world. He is also the author of the book, ‘Ethical Vegan: a personal and political journey to change the world’.